3/15/12 Schools unveil proposed calendars

Schools unveil proposed calendars
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 3/15/12     
Reprinted with permission.

   The Alamance-Burlington School System has unveiled its proposed academic year calendars for 2013-14.

   Each of the three calendars was discussed during a school board work session this week.

   One is for schools operating on the traditional schedule. Another is for year-round schools, which have a more stretched-out school year, a shorter summer break, and additional breaks during the year. Those are Graham Middle School and Eastlawn, Haw River, North Graham and South Graham elementary schools. There’s a separate calendar for the Alamance-Burlington Middle College — a small, nontraditional high school that operates at Alamance Community College.

   Each of the calendars includes 185 instruction days, up from the traditional 180. That’s required by a state law approved in 2011 unless the system applies for and receives a waiver from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to use the additional five days for another purpose, such as staff development for educators.

   Angela Duncan, the system’s assistant superintendent of school improvement, presented information about the calendars to school board members.

   Duncan said the school system has already responded to “some email traffic” asking for changes to the calendars.    The most frequently raised issue, she said, was restoring the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a day off for students and teachers.

   “It did shorten the holiday break,” she said in reference to the winter break that surrounds Christmas.

   The traditional-year calendar begins Aug. 26, a Monday, and ends June 10, a Tuesday. Under state law, traditional-schedule schools can begin no earlier than Aug. 25 unless the system in which they operate receives a waiver based on a large number of days missed because of bad weather.

   Year-round schools are not bound by that requirement. Students there would start the year July 22 and end June 10.

   Students in the Alamance-Burlington Middle College would start Aug. 7 and end the year May 22.

   School board members and administrators discussed the difficulty of fitting in required instructional days and teacher workdays between Aug. 25 and June 10 with the requirements for the traditional calendar combined with the five added instructional days.

   Board member Tony Rose mentioned the long stretch with no break other than weekends between the Martin L. King Jr. holiday Jan. 20 and the start of spring break April 18. With no workdays other than Jan. 21 scheduled during that time, he noted that could have an impact on snow makeup days. The proposed calendar includes a statement that any holidays or workdays could be used as snow makeup days.

   Board member Steve Van Pelt expressed a similar thought: “That is probably the time … that teachers would be doing snow dances,” he said.

   Duncan said the addition of early-release days not on the calendar could make some difference in that situation. Those are days when students attend for part of the day, allowing teachers to do planning or training after they leave.